This week saw the introduction of the UK’s 14-day quarantine rule for passengers arriving from overseas into any of the UK’s transport hubs including airports. However, questions remain on how the quarantine is being enforced and why it is being implemented now.

The television network ITV reported how one passenger who arrived at Heathrow Airport from Switzerland on Monday 8 June said he wasn’t informed of the need to self-isolate. To make matters worse the passenger said he wasn’t feeling well and was going to take the tube into central London. Although he said his symptoms were not related to COVID-19, the lack of restrictions on passengers arriving at one of the UK’s air transport hubs and having to self isolate but not until after they’ve been able to travel on public transport raises concerns.

The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel says the decision to introduce a quarantine period now is “guided by science”. But Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, disagrees. Speaking at a Downing Street briefing, he made it abundantly clear that a blanket quarantine policy is appropriate only when a country with a low infection rate is faced with people coming in from many nations with worse records.

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) argues that the UK quarantine will have a “devastating impact on the industry and put jobs at risk”. It has called for health measures and “air bridges” to allow travel to low-risk countries while protecting the public from high-risk arrivals. It is also asking for Business Rates Relief for all UK airports.

Meanwhile, British Airways parent company IAG, supported by low-cost rivals easyJet and Ryanair, is fighting back against the UK’s quarantine legislation. In a pre-action protocol letter to the British Home Office, the airlines describe the restriction as unnecessary, citing that the measures are more severe than the ones that are already applied to the people who are confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.

Unworkable. Unwanted. Unpopular. The hope from those in the industry is that the quarantine measures will be dropped or altered before the end of the month.

Stay safe, stay healthy and have a good weekend.

Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.

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